The word “etymology” comes from a Greek word meaning “the true sense of a word.” The study of the etymology (i.e., the origin and historical development) of words can often be very rewarding. One word which has a most interesting history and should be of great interest to all of us who seek to serve the Lord is the word, “SINCERE.” In his book, How to Succeed with Your Money, George M Bowman writes concerning this word…
You see, the word “sincere” comes from two Latin words meaning “without wax.” Artificers of Middle Eastern countries fashioned highly expensive statuettes out of a very fine porcelain. It was of such fragile nature that extreme care had to be taken when firing the figurines to keep them from cracking. Dishonest dealers would accept the cracked figurines at a much lower price and then fill the cracks with wax before offering them for sale.But honest merchants would display their uncracked porcelain wares with signs that read, “sine cera,” “without wax.”
Certainly the Christian is one who is sincere in all that he does. We must be “without wax,” if you will. Being in the sort of surroundings that we find ourselves in this first part of the 21st century in America, we have many influences that would call for us to put the label “SINE CERA” on the work that we do as Christians. We must let the world know that Christians do not behave themselves in a way that is dishonest. We must let it be known that we are guided by the biblical system of ethics and that to behave in the way that those ancient dealers of damaged statuettes did is foreign to such ethical standards. We must be sure not to allow the world’s standards to replace our only reliable guidebook, the Bible.
And yet, these challenges are sometimes more difficult than we might fully appreciate if we are not as reflective as we need to be. All around us is dishonesty. All around us is the lack of sincerity. Everywhere we look, there is WAX and WAX and more WAX. How do we live in a sincere way? How do we live without wax?
One great aid for the Christian to be sincere and to understand the importance of sincerity in all of our dealings is to read and benefit from the wisdom of Solomon in the book of Proverbs. We can learn much about how God views dishonesty and lack of sincerity by such reading. Let us consider some of what the wise man reveals for our use.
We learn that a lying tongue is one of the things which God HATES from Proverbs 6:16-19. I would suggest that it is a seldom appreciated blessing, among God’s people, to be able to know that which our God hates. Think about being in the position of the ancient heathens and participating with them in their great fear of offending their “gods.” Paul gives us a clue about how fearful they were of offending their gods by his mention of the building of an EXTRA altar to the “unknown god” (Acts 17:23). Lest they make a tragic mistake of offending a god by leaving him out, they would actually go to the expense and trouble of building an EXTRA altar. How useful and instructive and beneficial to know that our God hates a lying tongue! How different is our God from the false gods heathens worship! If God hates lying, does this not tell us that we must also hate lying? If God hates lying, then surely we will avoid it at all costs!
Dishonesty in business dealings is an abomination to God (Prov 11:1; 20:10; 20:23). The use of false weights in the measuring of goods is here condemned by God. This practice would be comparable to the covering up of the cracks with the use of wax by those dishonest dealers spoken of earlier.
Furthermore, we see that a lying tongue is but for a moment (Prov 12:19). We see that lying lips are an abomination to the Lord (Prov 12:22). God hates false witness to the degree that there will be punishment without escape to the guilty one (Prov 19:5). In graphic terms the wise man states that some day all burning, deceitful lips and lying tongues shall be like the one who digs a pit and falls in it; like the one pushing a stone which rolls back upon him (Prov 26:23-28).
Sadly, sometimes brethren make agreements and fail to live up to them. Sometimes church leaders agree to support evangelistic efforts and then fail to come through with the agreed upon support. Sometimes agreements are made regarding cooperative efforts among brethren, and then those agreements turn out, in the heat of the noonday sun, to have been held together with wax. What a sad day it is when agreements among brethren have to be labeled “sine cera,” because some brethren are not willing to abide by that to which they have agreed. Let’s get back to the respect for and the treasuring of biblical sincerity. Surely we, of all people, can most appreciate the importance of a sincere way of life.
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